I'm 35, male, 5'11", 174 lbs., reasonably fit. I have seasonal allergies which trigger mild to moderate asthma. I have slightly elevated total cholesterol (238), but it may or may not be under 200 now. It's been 4 years since I've had it checked, but then I weighed more, ate worse and was not in as good of shape. Otherwise, I'm in good health.
However, lately, I've had very bad gerd/heartburn. Usually worse throughout the day, with burning chest pain on left, right and center of chest, sometimes behind one or both shoulder blades. Typically, within 1-2 hours of eating. The pain at times is stabbing and sharp, like little knife pricks. It has never been crushing or constant, like heart attack pain. I've never been short of breath or had sweating with nausea. My main symptoms are unevenly distributed chest pain (better when standing and walking), sore burning throat, acid taste in mouth, the feeling of an incomplete or a caught burp that won't proceed and sour stomach.
Admittedly, I've been eating bad lately. A lot of parties, work socials and lack of discipline on my part. Fried food, fancy food and spicey food. Also been drinking more alcohol than usual, with 2-3 4+ drink nights a week. I also don't drink enough water, though I'm trying to cure this and I have dropped all carbonated beverages and cut down on the coffee (only 2 cups per day).
I've also experienced heart palpitations with these episodes. I know that bad gerd can cause all of this, and there is a strong relationship between gerd and asthma. My asthma has rarely been severe, but more of a feeling of general tightness and constriction in my airways, making it difficult on bad days to do usually effortless or moderately taxing activities. I was on zyrtec, which controlled the allergies which in turn controlled the asthma, but I quit this a month ago, as it gave me a racing heart and anxiety. Not coincidentally, that is about the time the gerd started to act up. Not to mention I live in Atlanta, which has some of the worst smog/allergies in the world.
I should finally state that I'm in a high stress job (litigator at a big law firm), have two small kids (one who is disabled) and am dealing with great family stress.
I know that this is not cardiac, as for several years I've had these episodes at times, but they are more frequent and severe now, and to be blunt, I've not been hospitalized for them. I assume that if it was cardiac they would be more constant and worsening. For instance, I can easily attain and maintain my max heart rate on an excersise bike for 30-45 min without issues.
I believe it to be a legitimate combined physical cause of gerd and asthma, made worse by stress, diet, lifestyle and not being on any medication. The palpitations and chest pain are scary, and I have with a few episodes almost gone to the hospital, but ultimately calmed down and realized I was not dying.
Thoughts? I hate the way I feel. It's vicious physical-emotional cycle, where at times, I'm not sure what causes what. Thanks.
Well first off, it sounds like a visit to your primary care physician would not be a bad idea at all to rule out any heart related condition. Yes, it sounds like your problem is reflux, but it never hurts to lean toward the cautious side. That, and you will need a doctor to prescribe you some of the better GERD treatments out there such as Nexium, or Prilosec.
Other than that, if you want to be stubborn like my hubby and avoid a doctor at all cost. Then it sounds like you already realize that your diet is not up to par. You need to make a conscious decision to implement dietary changes in your life. A little will power for one week can make all the difference, and tell you quite a bit about your problem. Remember, moderation is key. No one is saying you have give everything up. Try eating some foods that are not high in sugar, or carbohydrates for that time. You might feel really hungry at first wanting to cave into your food addiction, but like any other one, it gets better after a little time.
Something else you can try is Prilosec OTC. Give a course a try, and you should know within four days of it being in your system if it's going to help.
I think it does sound like heartburn/GERD and you know what to do. Stop with the alcohol, fried spicy bad foods, reduce your stress and live healthy. Acid can cause all the symptoms you complained about, it does in me. My guess, since you are 35 years of age, i think a doctor would probably listen to your symptoms and either offer a prescription for a PPI, or offer to be more thorough if you are concerned, and order an upper endoscopy. As such, you can simply try a 2 week course of Prilosec OTC and see how you feel after 2 weeks. Take gaviscon for immediate relief. If still bad, make the appointment.